Is the United States a Meritocracy?

Within the educational system and the larger United States society, there is a debate over whether this country is a Meritocracy. In a meritocracy, your skills and talents are the only limit on how far you can go (once you decide what the even means). So are we one? I know I try to make each of my classes as pure a meritocracy as I can. I want to think that it is merit and merit alone that results in our success. I am not giving you any reading on the question  (or not much). Finding resources to use in a paper on this topic, and the exact focus of the topic are up to you. You will write a paper on where you stand and why on the following question: 
Is the United States a Meritocracy?
Definition According to The Oxford Dictionary, a Meritocracy is: 1. Government by persons selected competitively  according  to  merit,  2.  A  group  of  persons  selected  in  this  way,  3.  A  society governed by meritocracy.
Basically, it is advancement based on individual  ability, motivation, or achievement. Is that the culture in which we live?
Also, what relevance does this topic have for this course and education in general in the United States. Is this the world in which we live?
Consider this as a source-based paper in the largest sense of the word. You are not simply to present your  opinions or personal experiences, but rather, you must back up your  points of view using evidence quoted from reputable sources. 
Each student will write a paper, minimum 5 to 7 pages, or 2000-3000 words.
The Meritocracy Paper is due by Sunday, December 20 at 11:59 pm.
This assignment is worth a possible 30 points.
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